Nothing will stop students at the University of Tennessee from getting some — not even the university itself, which decided it would not use state tax dollars to fund the first-ever “Sex Week” at its Knoxville campus next month, following a Republican lawmaker’s complaints.
The university’s chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek recently announced he was pulling all of the funding for Sex Week that came from academic departments and programs — about $11,145 in tuition dollars and state taxes.
Sex Weeks are popular, annual events at college campuses nationwide, but despite what the name suggests, they’re far from bacchanalian bonanzas dedicated to the nude and lewd. They’re designed to be educational, offering classes and panels, open dialogue and free testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
That said, Sex Weeks aren’t exactly bastions of chastity, either; some of the UT-Knoxville’s programming attracted accusations going below the belt in all the wrong ways, like the inclusion of a seminar titled “How many licks does it take?” and plans for a “golden condom scavenger hunt.”
State Senator Stacey Campfield started the push to shut down Sex Week after reading a Fox News piece highlighting the inclusion of a $20,000 “lesbian bondage expert,” and university officials quickly responded after reviewing the event, which is organized by the student group SEAT (Sexual Empowerment at Tennessee) and set to take place Apr. 7-12.
“The University’s three-part mission is to provide education, research and public service, and the state allocates this funding to help us fulfill the mission,” university system president Joe DiPietro said in a supporting statement. “Some activities planned as part of Sex Week are not an appropriate use of state tax dollars.”
The student organizers aren’t entirely out of luck, as they still have $6,700 from student programming and fundraising, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy. In typical collegiate fashion, Sex Week supporters are taking to — what else? — social media and Twitter with the hashtag #IWantSexWeek to lodge their complaints — and redefine what it means to be “sexually frustrated.” But with private donations pouring in to cover the costs — including $1,000 from Planned Parenthood — it looks like UT students might get some satisfaction after all.